January 2021 will be a busy month for accountants across the UK as they help their clients with Self-Assessment Returns to cover what has been an exceptionally unusual year. Throughout 2020, accountants have become star advisors to their self-employed clients, and have done so while listening with empathy to help them through the emotional challenges of an unpredictable period.
We take a look at ways accountants can get ready for January without burning out.
Start talking to your clients now and set their expectations for the coming months. If you are planning to implement sliding fees for clients who drag their feet then you will have to shout about it now. Consider your value – not just of your time but of the stress that tardy clients cause – and be firm in charging for it. Your clients may not be excited by the idea of additional fees, but it’s up to them to manage their time and avoid them.
Each time an additional fee threshold is approaching, send an email to your clients to remind them. That email should prompt them into action, especially if there’s a financial incentive spurring them on.
If you have been clear that there are consequences to submitting information late, follow through with them. If a client is begging you to add a few hours onto your week outside of what you’ve scheduled then make a call. You can choose to do it for them, but they have already been made aware of the additional costs involved so be firm in billing them. And if you don’t have the capacity to accept their work at the last minute then don’t accept it. After all, they had enough time to submit their information.
Work smarter, not harder
We have a fantastic article looking at ways to manage your 9 to 5 using a variety of tools.
You should also spend some time now looking at how your practice software works for you. Start by thinking back and ask yourself if your Self-Assessment software made things harder last January. You need to minimise data-heavy work, so look at integrations and links – does the Self-Assessment module bring the clients’ data from the Practice Management system? That will save you time and minimise errors. Do you have a robust deadline management system to stay on top of what needs to be done? How easy is the software to navigate and how many clicks does it take to get a return done? Are you able to access software support easily and at no extra cost?
The emotional toll
No one can work relentlessly, so make plans for January that you can look forward to and enjoy. Plan to take lunches, plan for walks, or set up coffee dates. Do things that enhance and enrich your life – perhaps that’s a crafty hobby or doing puzzles. Check-in with your colleagues and support each other.
Your physical health can impact on your mental wellness. One of the easiest ways to stay on top is to make sure you stay hydrated. You should also move from your desk to stretch out, which is especially important when working from home where it’s easy to get absorbed in your work for long hours and not step away.
Many accountants plan to take a longer break at the start of February. It’s a treat after your hard work and something on the horizon to look forward to. With a pandemic raging, it might be tempting to delay your break until travel is easier, but you should consider a long weekend staycation instead. Don’t skip your reward!
Ready to talk?
BTCSoftware’s fantastic experts are available on 0345 241 5030 or you can email email@example.com to set up a chat. Or, book a demo to find out for yourself why our customers voted BTCSoftware as the winner of Professional Tax Software of the Year.